I get asked many questions about what the best headphone brands for audiophiles are, and to be honest, it’s getting harder and harder to pin down an answer. In recent years the audiophile headphone and portable audio market, in general, have exploded, resulting in several new companies rising to contention as well as many of the old guards of companies releasing new models to combat this onslaught of awesome on head audio.
Ultimately picking the best headphone brands will come down to that specific end-user needs from a headphone. Users will have to consider all aspects of usability, comfort, isolation, and budget to find the best headphones. However, several companies stand out in regards to making generally excellent headphones.
These headphone brands have something that sets them apart from the more mundane competition and makes them a bit more special. In this list, we have drawn up 8 of the best headphone brands you can trust when taking care of sound quality.
I think everyone knows who Sony is so we won’t have to give you too much of a background on the parent company. It is however the headphone department we have the most interest in. Sony always produced good headphones and earphones but it hasn’t been until the past few years where they have truly begun to pull away from the competition.
They threw everything they had at the wireless audio market creating the best wireless earbuds and headphones on the market today. Their innovation and cohesive design across their products mean that when it comes to using headphones on the go they are unmatched.
However, Sony didn’t stop with conquering the consumer market. They swiftly mover into being serious contenders in the ultra-premium market with headphones like the MDR-1ZR and earphones like the IER-1ZR which are both many people endgame products.
Sony is a beast in this space and sometimes doesn’t get the credit they deserve.
Bose is another well-known name in most headphones and they also became famous through producing some rather good noise canceling headphones. Sony came along at a time where Bose was going through a real period of lacking innovation. Thankfully they saw they were massively losing market share and have decided to update their product line with the new 700 series headphones.
They might not be the powerhouse headphone brand they once we’re on the consumer side of things but much like Klipsch they are hugely successful in the professional space with headsets on display at numerous sporting franchises around the world and they are even the official headphone of the NFL.
Hifiman can be considered one of the forerunners of the audiophile headphone world. Audiophiles around the globe recognize this headphone brand as being synonymous with good sound quality.
The company focuses on producing planar magnetic headphones but they also have a range of amps and earphones that are competitive in their own right. We also like that they offer something for everyone with headphones like the cheap and cheerful 400 series right up to the mind-bogglingly expensive Shangri-La headphone system.
It’s a brand that has stood the test of time and produces some of the best high-resolution headphones you can buy.
Audio Technica is another long-term favorite brand of ours. In fact, it was one of the companies that got me into portable audio and now in 2021, they have a full range of headphones catering to consumers, professionals, and audiophiles.
This product depth they have sees them consistently appear in many best headphone lists in their respective categories. Want open-back audiophile headphones? How about the ADX5000? Closed-back? May I suggest the AWKT?. What if you are a professional DJ looking for a solid beater set of cans with the good sound quality? Well, there’s always the much-loved M50x.
What im trying to say is that Audio Technica has something for everyone and they are relatively competitive if not always class-leading in their respective areas. A true competitor to the likes of Shure and Sennheiser.
- Company Website: www.gradolabs.com
- Best Grado Headphone: Grado Sr80x a recent update to an all time classic headphone
Grado is a family headphone company out of Brooklyn, New York, founded way back in 1953.
The company’s headphones are hand-assembled and backed by its long and prestigious history in the audiophile world. These headphones’ design is often copied due to their iconic looks, but what sets the Grado brand apart is its consistency of excellent-sounding headphones right throughout its range.
Countless on-ear audiophiles have started their journey into higher audio listening levels with the now legendary Grado SR-80 due to its excellent price to performance ratio. Some people move on to other brands, but many will move up the line to the higher-end models like the SR225 and beyond.
Audeze has been dead front and center at the headphone revolution’s advancement with its unique sounding range of planar magnetic headphones.
There is something extraordinary about the incredibly detailed and accurate sound that this brand is well known for amongst the headphone community.
Probably best known for the stunning but cumbersome LCD series, the company has launched several new models such as the EL open and closed-back headphones and the latest portable Sine models.
These new models have all been received significantly positively, and the latest designs are so damn cool they are managing to attract a whole new generation to the audiophile hobby.
Now in 2021, the company has further expanded its product line to include in-ear monitors and closed-back planar designs. This can only be a good thing for the market as a whole because it pushes other manufacturers to compete and not let their own product lines become stagnant.
Audeze reviews by Audiophile On:
Stax is known as some of the ugliest and most cumbersome-to-use headphones globally but don’t let that put you off because the Stax brand dominates the world of electrostatic headphones.
Electrostatic is a unique technology that forgoes the traditional use of moving coil drivers. Instead, it operates by moving an incredibly thin and light film between two plates using static electricity. The result is a sound that is arguably the best possible form of ear headphones.
Listening to the Stax SR009 is a breathtaking experience if you ever get to try it, but the entire range still manages to offer a unique flavor of the Stax sound.
Just remember, you won’t be using your Stax headphones straight out of your iPhone any time soon as the headphones have to be paired with very high voltage amplifiers to get them going.
It may not be the most practical solution, but if sound fidelity is your number one priority, a set of Stax headphones should be very high on your shopping list.
Ultrasone is a German company whose brand is synonymous with creating great-sounding and sometimes incredible-looking headphones. Ultrasone has a massive range of headphones that will be a reliable choice at almost all price points, but it’s the high-end headphones for which the company is most revered.
You can have your Ultrasone in nearly every tuning. It’s just about going through the edition series until you find the one that meets your particular tuning preference. Our top picks are the incredibly detailed and spacious sounding edition 5 and edition 10 models.
- Company Website: www.Sennheiser.com
- Flagship Sennheiser Headphone: Sennheiser HD820s
- List of the best Sennheiser headphones
Sennheiser, I am pretty sure, will be the one headphone on this list that you will know unless you have been living under a rock. It is hard not to have seen something from the Sennheiser brand in your life. Sennheiser is a company that caters to users at all price points. Whether you are looking to spend ten dollars to tens of thousands of dollars, they manage to transcend the mainstream and find a place right in the hearts of high-end audio lovers.
The ex flagship Sennheiser HD800 is one of my all-time favorite headphones, and I am sure that such feelings are shared with thousands of headphone enthusiasts around the world, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t great choices further down the line.
The HD-600, HD660, and HD-700 are all some of the best headphones for their price. Sennheiser even has some brilliant portable models such as the Momentum.
Of course, you cannot talk about Sennheiser as one of the best headphone brands without mentioning the name Orpheus. The original Sennheiser Orpheus was widely regarded as the best headphones of all time and fetched prices over $30,000 on the open market. A few months ago, Sennheiser announced that they were revising the line and cementing their place at the top of the high-end headphone marketplace.
Sennheiser Headphone reviews at AudiophileOn:
- Sennheiser HD700 Review
- Sennheiser HD598 Review
- Sennheiser HD558 Review
- Sennheiser Momentum Review
- Sennheiser HD820s Review
One of the best headphone brands in this category has to be Final Audio Design for all-out luxury. The Japanese company has a history spanning back to the late ’60s and early ’70s and but it’s only in the past decade that they have been gaining recognition.
Most folks, including myself, were incredibly skeptical of the pricing of Final Audio products, but that was before I tried them. It is at that point when you finally get these headphones on your head and give them a listen that you understand that Final Audio Design is very serious about sound.
I rate Final Audio because they compete with everyone on sound, but when it comes to flat-out luxury, these are the headphones that are streaks ahead of the competition. In that regard, the price becomes far more palatable as you are paying for a luxury brand instead of a performance. For example, a Sennheiser HD800 might be considered the headphone world’s Nissan GTR, the version is godlike, and looks are functional.
The Final Audio Pandora is more Pagani Zonda in that it’s Sonorous X will give you that raw performance, but the design is over the top luxurious and a bit crazy to boot.
Our Final Audio Design Reviews:
- Final Audio Design Pandora Hope VI (Sonorous VI) Review
- Final Audio Adagio 3 Review
- Final Audio Heaven VI and Heaven IV Review
- Final Audio E3000 Review
- Final Audio Piano Forte VIII Review
- Final Audio FI-BA-SS Review
Are you starting to catch the theme here? Yeh, you get it. Germans make some of the world’s best headphones (is there anything that Germans can’t do well?).
Beyerdynamic is another headphone brand that makes this list, but I am giving it to them because they make some of the most challenging, most durable workhorse headphones you can find on God’s green earth.
The house sound is best described as a reference right across the range as you are most likely to find a set of Beyer’s at home in a studio or on the heads of some of the world’s top DJs.